Denise Hills, a geologist, and her husband, a college geology professor, live in Tuscaloosa, AL with their two children, a first grader and a three-year-old. Last year, when her son was in kindergarten at the local public school, he didn’t get recess. Mid-year, Denise wrote a letter to the principal and local school board, expressing her concerns, but she never heard back.
This year, things are better.
Recess is Important
by Denise Hills
I wrote a letter last year to my son’s principal and the school board about the lack of recess at my son’s school. I quoted research (information that I received through this blog, mostly), and gave an impassioned plea to let my son run around for even just a few minutes a day! I heard nothing back from the school board, and only had a cursory call from the principal. The end of the year was rapidly approaching, and I knew that nothing was going to change for that year.
This year, I was determined to pursue things more rigorously, for my son’s sake. He’s a VERY active boy, and ends up in trouble because he can’t sit still. Recess helps with that. So, at the start of the year, in a new school, I looked at his schedule. Sigh. No recess.
So, I dug out the letter I wrote last year and revised it, and got ready to send it to his principal. However, I ran into my son’s teacher before I sent the letter, and am I glad I did! She told me that they do have recess, they just can’t call it recess. They are required to have a certain number of instructional minutes per day, and recess doesn’t count towards that. There’s no time in the schedule for recess, so they call it something else (I’m not letting on as to what they call it, because I don’t want them to lose it!).
Yay! My son is getting recess! But I wanted to know if this is going to go away next year, so I still wanted to bring it up with the principal. Luckily, we have a fabulous, approachable principal at this school. When I voiced my concerns about recess with her, she immediately said that it is her commitment that EVERY child in her school, from grades 1-5, gets recess EVERY day. She is the one who has told the teachers how to implement it and still maintain the required “instructional” minutes. What a change from the previous principal, who essentially told me she couldn’t do anything!
I’ve spoken with the principal a bit about what we can do to help change things across the district, not just at our school, because while I’m thrilled that my son has recess, I want every child to have recess. We have a new school board now, so I’m hoping that will be a good starting point for my project to get recess instituted at all our local schools, and maybe even eventually at all schools in the state! Wish me luck!